Below is a bit of animation I did for fun over Christmas break. It took a solid week for me to do in Flash and I'm gonna try to recall a bit of my process here.
I always have ideas for animation projects, but I never feel I have the span of time I need to dedicate to something. I was looking forward to a good couple weeks off over Christmas and figured I'd make it a goal start and finish something rather quickly. Give myself a project with an end goal. Exercise some of those animation bugs. I just wanted to think "animation" and I don't always get that opportunity even when I'm actually doing animation at work. Just too many things going on to focus.
So to start, there was a weekend where I doodled these stick poses in between some house work. This is all the "pre-viz" I did. The girl with the sickle I had in mind from some character concepts I did for my buddy Sean a while back. But basically this was "straight ahead". No story or real idea here - put her in a pose, now make guys attack. Like a kid playing with toys. I made a list of possible creatures/characters for her to fight but I didn't consult the list too closely. Once I got into drawing, it became more important to just get a body in there to take up the space and do an action in order to advance everything. Ha - a "whale". Reviewing the list, anything is possible I guess.
Then into Flash to start with roughs. Inking straight onto dedicated layers, onion skinning - nothing too special. I did start using Flash's "object drawing" which I never really paid attention to before. Basically Flash creates a "drawing object" for every shape or stroke you make. Since objects don't intersect, I could be quick and scribbly and later grab a line or a group of lines and adjust them individually. Still doesn't seem so completely useful to me in everyday use, but it came in handy here. The rough pass took the majority of the week to do requiring the most brainpower. I say that because everything was a "problem" that needed solving. Poses, timing, composition, etc. How will she get from A to B? How fast should X happen? Rough some poses, feel it out, scrub, no? try again. Like doing a tight animatic right away. I enjoyed the process because I was forcing myself into situations that I would have to work out of. Really pretty fun. Not smart for real production though.
At some point I arbitrarily determined that I have to stop HERE if I want to clean it up and "finish" it in some form. In the working version you can see some sorta vampire character standing in the background. And when she snaps around at the end I had her elbowing a pirate in the face. So I was planning to keep going until I exercised some discretion.
I was feeling pretty good about the rough and - here's where I fell off the deep end just briefly - decided to kick out tighter drawings on actual paper. There's still part of me that feels like it's still faster to doodle with pencils and throw down page after page on a light table. After a trip to my folks house, I used their printer to spit out some low-rez "keys" from my rough Flash pass. Brought 'em back home, figured out registration, made a template, started drawing over and about 15 drawings in I came to my senses. I enjoy drawing, the almost completely separate process of drawing, so almost immediately things were taking way too long. Here are some of those. I feel like a dope for even considering paper and pencil for the purposes of a quick exercise...
Well at least I had a few tight drawings for the start of the animation even if I did waste time. I got 'em in Flash and then just started doing the bulk of the inbetweening and timing adjustments. I went little by little with each character and element getting their own layer. Moving the whole process along instead of concentrating on one character at a time. After every day I could see progress and felt like if I could do a couple seconds a day comfortably, I could finish up after the weekend. This is pretty important to me. If I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's worth continuing. Here's a screen shot I thought looked kinda neat. With onion skinning on, these are the frames for the pathetic ninja:
When the "inks" were all done, there was some time for experiments. Hi contrast colors, pink hair, graphic treatments, etc. I tried several color combos on a still frame. I really wanted white lines (white lines?? That's the opposite! That's crazy!) at first but it just wasn't working. With the sickle as a weapon I was pretty much thinking Russian red from the beginning and possibly trying to incorporate text somewhere. A lot of people comment that they like the curved shape the frame takes on when she jumps off the robot. Honestly though, I was blacking out the left side of the frame because I didn't want to animate the cowboys before we see them. She carves out a curved shape, but only because there's noting to the left until the robot smashes the ground. Then pow - the cowboys appear.
...well I think that's all. Another doozy for those that like process. Hope ya dig!